Saturday May 22, 2021. 17:17
Simba SC narrowly missed out on an incredible comeback in their CAF Champions League quarterfinal tie against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday, with a 3-0 triumph at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam not enough to avoid a 4-3 aggregate defeat.
A 4-0 win for the Amakhosi in the first leg in Soweto last weekend suggested this match should have been a straightforward affair, but the Tanzanian hosts, in front of a rowdy and partisan crowd, put in an outstanding display that almost brought them back from the dead.
Simba enjoyed early dominance and forced Chiefs onto the back foot, with Luis Miquissone threatening down the left flank and almost finding the target with a shot from a tight angle in the seventh minute.
On 13 minutes Chiefs missed out on a great chance to add to their overall advantage, as Lebogang Manyama provided a great cross from the right to pick out Leonardo Castro, but the unmarked striker could not make a clean connection with his header.
Just past the midway point of the first half Wekundu wa Msimbazi reduced the aggregate deficit to 4-1, with John Bocco forcing a shot beyond goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma to spark hope for the hosts. The strike arrived on the counter attack, with a great diagonal pass from Chris Mugalu then lobbed into Bocco’s path by Cletus Chama.
The goal sparked an intense period of attacking pressure from Simba, who forced Bvuma into a couple of outstanding saves to deny Bocco and Chama. Yet not everything was going the hosts’ way, as they were forced into three unplanned substitutions due to injuries: Bernard Morrison, Erasto Nyoni and Kennedy Juma replaced Mzamiru Yassin, Taddeo Lwanga and Joash Onyango inside the opening 38 minutes.
A lengthy period of injury time before the interval saw Simba spurn several half-chances to leave the game 1-0 in their favour at the break – with the Amakhosi’s defenders no doubt grateful to have a chance to catch their breath.
The Simba pressure continued after the restart and a second goal arrived in the 56th minute: Miquissone did great work to get past Reeve Frosler down the hosts’ left before playing a dangerous low cross which deflected off a Chiefs defender and was turned home at close range by Bocco.
The hosts should have further reduced the deficit on 72 minutes when Mugalu latched onto Morrison’s pull-back from the right by-line, but his shot was sent straight into the arms of a grateful Bvuma.
Yet the third goal did arrive in the 86th minute, with Chama driving into the box and producing a perfectly-placed right-footed shot which beat Bvuma’s left-hand, made it 3-0 on the day (3-4 overall) and teed up a dramatic finale.
Yet Simba, with momentum on their side, were unable to find that all-important fourth goal to send the tie to extra time, with Chiefs somehow holding out under incredible pressure to secure a 4-3 aggregate triumph.
Chiefs will face either MC Alger or Wydad Casablanca in next month’s semifinals. The teams are locked at 1-1 ahead of their second leg clash in Casablanca later this evening.
Simba SC (1) 3 (Bocco 24’ 56’ Chama 86’)
Kaizer Chiefs 0 – Chiefs won 4-3 on aggregate
Simba: Manula, Husseini, Wawa, Onyango (Juma 38’), Kapombe, Chama, Yassin (Morrison 25’), Lwanga (Nyoni 35’), Miquissone, Bocco, Mugalu
Chiefs: Bvuma, Ngezana, Mathoho, Cardoso, Frosler, Blom (Baccus 72’), Parker, Zulu (Sasman 46’), Castro (Mphahlele 88’), Manyama (Akumu 60’), Nurkovic (Katsande 59’)